What is the song that has been played more times than any other song ever?
We did the math on the song that’s been played nearly 50 million times over the last 50 years
Nobody famous sang this tune. It was never a hit single and got almost no play on Top 40 radio. There’s even a dispute over the exact title. Yet “It’s a Small World,” also known as “It’s a Small, Small World” and “It’s a Small World (After All),” is very likely the most played song in music history — nearly 50 million times. And it was first heard 50 years ago this month.
Various sources cite the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” (1964) as having more than eight million plays on radio and TV, and The Beatles’ “Yesterday” (1965) with at least seven million in the U.S. alone, and many more in the rest of the world. Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” introduced by Bing Crosby in 1942, has inundated the airwaves ever since, but for only a few weeks each year. There’s little debate that Patty and Mildred Hill’s “Happy Birthday to You” (originally “Good Morning to You”) has been performed more than any other song, but not in public; if you do, and don’t pay royalties, the possessive copyright holders at Warner/Chappell Music will sue your pants off — and take all your birthday gifts, too.
That leaves “It’s a Small World,” composed by Disney staff writers Richard and Robert Sherman for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair pavilion ride officially known as “PEPSI Present’s Walt Disney’s ‘It’s a Small World’ — a Salute to UNICEF and the World’s Children.” In his authoritative 1998 book Songwriters: A Biographical Dictionary with Discography, Nigel Harrison proclaims the song “the most performed composition in the world.” Richard Sherman, the surviving brother, thinks so too.
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I love studying millennials and marketing, so this infographic is of interest to me. [Click image to enlarge.]